Apparently jealous of Michelle Malkin's appearance on Newsweek's "Conventional Wisdom Watch", Mark Hemingway of National Review Online has raised the stakes from attacking a twelve year-old to attacking a two year-old. After throwing a few more insults at the parents of Graeme Frost, Hemingway goes on to attack the parents of two year-old Bethany Wilkerson, who was born with a serious heart problem and has received desperately needed health insurance through the S-CHIP program. Hemingway hauls out one of the more revolting tools in the conservative framing kit, dividing the world into the deserving poor and the undeserving poor. Hemingway condemns Bethany's parents, "Dara and Brian Wilkerson are real poster children — for irresponsible decisions." "What irresponsible decisions?" you may ask. It appears that Dara Wilkerson quit a job that had insurance for one that didn't over three years before she became pregnant with Bethany.
I know, I know, you're saying to yourself, "what an unholy bitch! How dare she try to improve her position in life when there was a possibility that she might get pregnant some day? Her child doesn't deserve insurance!" Mark Hemingway agrees with you. While he makes a few token gestures to denying the implications of his arguments -- "The current debate [is not about] kicking the Frosts and the Wilkersons to the curb" -- the arguments speak loud and clear. The deserving poor are those who take what they get and don't make things difficult for their social betters.
At one time, a health emergency involving a child was the very definition of deserving poor for conservatives. That may have been true with yesterday's conservatives. At one time, we liberals joked that conservatives only cared about human lives in the womb and didn't give damn about them once they passed the cervix. That may have been a cheap shot with yesterday's conservatives. Today's conservatives are a different breed -- mean, ugly, dangerous breed.